November 10, 2013


I had this past week off from work. It wasn't planned in advance, so it ended up being a "Staycation". Basically, the boss said that I had too much comp time built up, and that I needed to start taking time off before the end of the year.

I certainly had plenty to do, and I ended up getting several things checked off the list, but ultimately it felt a bit like a wasted week. Chores were done, beer was brewed and bottled, health care was researched, and boxes were torn through, but at the end of the week, I didn't feel like I had a good "what I did this summer" report to give.

The timing was actually fortuitous as it was the first week of NaNoWriMo. My friend Sean encouraged me to get back out there and take on the challenge once again. It is obvious to everyone that there hasn't been a whole lot o' writing going on here (or anywhere), so though it had been tugging at my brain, I really wasn't planning on committing to the 50,000 word challenge again this year. But in the week leading up to November 1st, the writing brain was reawakened, and I liked how it felt. I don't know that what I am working on currently will go anywhere, but it is great to be putting metaphorical pen to paper once again.

Then my laptop died.

I was writing in the local Starbucks (my other office) when the screen froze. Then I froze. When was the last time I hit save? I took a picture of the screen to at least capture a paragraph or two, and then rebooted. Then it happened several more times, and I basically gave up for the day. Soon, instead of just a frozen screen, I was getting this:

Now, I know that I am looking for excuses at this point. It is so easy to find them when the task is difficult. I could start writing things out on paper, but of course the word count is much easier to keep track of in trusty old Word. I do have a desktop computer, though it is sitting on top of the tv, being used only for watching programs on Hulu. There is always the library, or using the computer at work on off hours. Options abound, but it doesn't take much to derail the creative process of a procrastinator.

This weekend it started to feel like I was making use of my time off. On Saturday, I got in a 6 mile run, then went to a SIFF film festival featuring award winning short films. The draw was a film called "Sleeping with Siri", produced by Marty Riemer and Michael Stusser, who I listen to on a weekly podcast. The film is about how our constant use and dependence on technology is warping how we think and perceive our world. As a reaffirmation, Google Maps led me to the wrong place and I was nearly late to the show. And then of course, my laptop died.

Today, I signed up on a Cascade bike ride, and rode new roads with new people. I have felt kind of shut off this week, so it was nice to get out and conquer a not so solo task. Afterward, I stopped off at a local brewery to catch the end of the Seahawks game, and randomly ran into great friends I hadn't seen in too long a time. It was great to feel this reconnection and presence throughout the day.

There was a moment on today's bike ride where I found myself veering toward the edge of the road where the pavement had broken away. The dangerous spot was highlighted with white paint, and my wheel naturally turned into the gap. This is a lesson in biking, that we tend to naturally steer toward what we are looking at. If we see an obstacle in our path, our eyes lock on it, and we head right for it even though that is exactly what we are trying to avoid. It takes conscious effort to look to the safe path, but once we do, we tend to steer toward it.

I have plenty of obstacles, real and imagined, getting in the way of writing, but there is always a path around them. It just takes focusing on the right thing. I am currently about 6,500 words behind on my goal, when I should have been far ahead with all this time off. A busted laptop and other hurdles will make it tough to catch up, but if I don't make it, it will be because I listened to those dark voices telling me I couldn't, that what I was writing was not worth putting down. I will have steered into the obstacles instead of the open road before me.

So I cleared off the sofa table, drug it in front of the tv/computer and banged out this bit of writing. Eight or nine hundred words that should have been put toward a new novel, but there is always tomorrow. I am best when cramming for finals, and sliding in just beating the tag makes for a better story.

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